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Have you heard the local gossip?

From the hottest new hotel openings, to fine-dining foodie news and swanky new rooftop bars - here's the inside line on the coolest happenings in Bucks & Oxon.

HOTEL OPENINGS

Foodies are salivating over the upcoming opening of a stylish gastropub with rooms in the Oxfordshire village of Clanfield – us included. The Double Red Duke is set to open as soon as restrictions allow and will have a focus on flame-cooked food, overseen by Hawksmoor supremo Richard Turner. Dishes to look forward to include Milk & Honey Lamb Chops with Spenwood Slaw and Braised Turnips with Miso, Marmite & Madeira. Forget collar and tie (we’re thinking bib…) the concept is casual dining by the fireside in the snug, at the bar, or how about this for the ultimate family reunion – in the “feasting room”.

The Double Red Duke is in good hands – Georgie and Sam Pearman already have two fabulous foodie pubs in Oxfordshire – The Swan in Ascott Under Wychwood and The Chequers at Churchill. The décor is sure to be a feast for the eyes too with Georgie planning to mix pieces from local artisans with custom-made one-offs and fabulous antiques. Here’s hoping it’s in our tier when the time comes.

The bastion of Oxford’s hospitality scene is going through its latest reincarnation following an epic revamp that saw most of its furniture donated to charity. The Randolph hotel has been bought by the Chicago-based Graduate Hotels collection. It has hotels in university towns and has the Oxbridge market sewn up, with exciting openings planned in both cities this year. Artists impressions reveal a sneak peek of what’s planned, with university history and alumni to be a big influence. Surely Inspector Morse will make an appearance – perhaps in the bar owing to his love of whisky and real ale.  

The Randolph

Fresh from the news that Oxford’s oldest department store, Boswells, has got planning approval to become a luxe boutique hotel, it looks like the now defunct Debenhams, across the road, could go the same way. The building is owned by a pension fund and plans for the top floors include conversion to a hotel or office space. We’ve got our fingers crossed for the former. 

Finally in hotel news, A country house near Gerrard’s Cross is going to be transformed into a luxury hotel on a par with the likes of The Grove and Cliveden.

A mystery private investor has submitted plans for a 60 bedroom hotel with private dining rooms, spa and a ‘summer pavilion’. The building has been an RAF training site, a missionary training centre and the set for A Very English Scandal and Midsomer. The architects have boldly made the claim that the hotel will “be on a par with anything London has to offer”. Weekend bags at the ready!

DRINKIES

Remember that ad about the granny who goes to pay in a cheque and the bank has turned into a trendy cocktail bar? It’s happened again. The old Natwest Bank on Princes Risborough High Street will be transformed into The Manor Coach House, a three storey fun palace with restaurant on the ground floor, cocktail lounge on the second and rooftop terrace, set to open in May 2021. If the Aylesbury branch is anything to go by, we can expect tapas with an international flair – Korean BBQ short ribs with kimchi or roasted padron peppers anyone? We’ll be there to invest our savings. 

FOOD

The award-winning Crockers hotel in Henley has made its ‘Finish At Home’ menu boxes available for nationwide delivery. The three course menu is £35 per person, or there’s a deluxe option ‘with a few cheeky little extras’ for £45 per person. Add to that the option to add on a paired wine or cocktail and this is starting to sound like the closest thing we’ve had to a night out in months. 

The Upton Firehouse (above) reopened for takeaways on Friday and has a stonking BBQ menu on Fridays including 10 hour harissa marinate beef brisket and charred corn with chimichurri. Wednesday is pizza night and the smokery shop and grocery also remain open with porchetta and bacon rolls, salads and juices as takeaway options.

The University of Oxford is undertaking its largest building project, and alongside the space for learning and research there will be a rooftop restaurant. The Tinbergen Building on Oxford’s South Parks road is one of those concrete icons that divides opinion. It was designed by the architect Sir Leslie Martin, who also designed the Royal Festival Hall at the South Bank Centre, but it was found to contain asbestos and is now being replaced by a £200m experimental psychology and biology research building called the Life and Mind Building

THINGS TO DO

While its doors remain shut, Bletchley Park is sharing free codebreaking crosswords and word searches on its website every Friday. Once you’ve cracked the codes and puzzles you can enter the draw for a family ticket to visit the World War Two intelligence centre when it reopens. There’s also over 100 podcasts, activities for younger kids and online exhibitions to inspire the next generation of coders.

Find more ideas here

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